A sublimely scripted classic led by James Stewart’s powerful performance, IAWL is THE greatest Christmas movie and one of the most important & meaningful films ever made – exploring humanity, depression, suicide, and the mystery of life. 9.7/10.
Plot Synopsis: George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence – who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Most Memorable Moment: 1. Opening winter opening and Angel discussion, 2. “I’ll lasso the moon for ya” One of the most iconic lines in film history, 3. Showing George his flashbacks and final realization of life
Pros: Great classic credits sequence and scoring, important emotional levity and subject matter of suicide and the feelings of depression and extreme sadness in life that are especially important today with record-high numbers today worse than it’s ever been – ahead of its time and does the important job of exploring the mystery and gift of life, sublime scripting and plot revelations looking at vignettes in a man who’s about to commit suicide’s life to learn and intervene, strong acting led by the iconic James Stewart, old-school charm and craftsmanship as well as good wintery cinematography and set design, a MASTERCLASS on characterization and character development giving us a thorough and all-encompassing view of George Bailey’s life through a God’s Eye-like full-life-flashback motif, strong romance hints as well like with the iconic line “Just say the word and I’ll lasso the moon for ya” that stands as one of the most iconic and quoted lines in film history, deftly balances humor as well especially in the harrowing and introspective final act with Clarence’s cheeky persona, thoroughly dissects and portrays George’s descension into depression and POWERFUL + moving acting by Stewart especially in the final act that stands as one of the greatest, most skillfully encompassing script-wise, and most iconic moments in cinema in showing someone what would’ve happened if they’d never been born and brilliantly using that to illustrate the differences that person made and the good things of that person’s life as well as true thankfulness in life as a great message for the holiday season, emotion-heavy tear-jerking final act especially important for anyone whose gone through similar emotions and one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen in cinema, great final wrapping up and writing full-circle with people he rescued coming back to help him in his time of need
Cons: The space talking scene – ehhhh, can get religiously preachy at times pushing Christianity and a one-sided view of life/suicide – people who have gone through depression and had those thoughts know it’s a wayyyy more complex and thoroughly harrowing issue/personal dilemma than what’s characterized here, sound editing all over the place and a little overlong and admittedly slow and lulling in the middle act
Overall Rating: 9.7/10